School Library JournalGr 8 Up—Will, 18, has been on his own ever since his mom died and his older brother, a drug addict responsible for her death, was sent to jail. He tutors Kurt, a 14-year-old who, unbeknownst to him, is similarly troubled. Kurt has been living with his grandmother since he stabbed his mother's abusive boyfriend in self-defense. He wants to find his dad in Minneapolis, and needs money for a bus ticket to get there. When middle-aged schizophrenic Carrie offers to pay him 40 dollars for every stray cat or dog he delivers to her as part of her misguided scheme to "save" mistreated or ignored pets, Kurt jumps at the opportunity. Coffelt aptly weaves together a narrative from these three distinct points of view. The characters' actions lead them to an intense collision after Carrie "saves"/kidnaps an infant and brings him to live in her filthy house. In showing Will's self-doubt regarding his burgeoning relationship with his crush, Claire, and Kurt's anguished flashbacks to abuse at the hands of his mother's boyfriend, the author displays a deep understanding of the teenage male psyche. Themes of loss and forgiveness add poignancy to the story without ever seeming heavy-handed. This short, action-filled book holds immense appeal for reluctant readers, and the rich characterization of Carrie's cats and dogs may pique the interest of animal lovers.—Jennifer Barnes, Homewood Library, IL
Kirkus ReviewsThree emotionally damaged people are drawn together. Will, 18, remarkably self-composed and on his own since his alcoholic mother's recent death, attends school and tutors 14-year-old Kurt, who is trying to put his life back together after his mother's relationship with an abusive boyfriend came to a horrifying end. The third character is Carrie, a middle-aged schizophrenic woman, off her meds and rapidly descending into an irrational mania in which she compulsively steals then neglects pets she believes are conversing with her. Strangely, some of the most entertaining parts of the novel are when readers are made privy to Carrie's apparently imaginary but realistic dialogue with members of her animal menagerie. Sections alternate between occasional first-person narration in the form of Will's blog and third-person accounts from each person's point of view. The same action is seen from different perspectives-sometimes a bit awkwardly-when narratives overlap, especially as the dramatic climax looms. Strong characterizations and an unusual theme are highlights of this interesting effort aimed at very mature YA readers. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Listen based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I'm going to start off saying that I really wanted to find something positive to say about this book but honestly I can't. What didn't I like about this story? Though I've never been a fan of child abuse and/or mental illness stories it wasn't the fact that Listen was darker than the average young adult novel I've read. It was the fact that there was so much going on that it actually felt manic. There was the aforementioned child abuse and mental illness but I'll also add in animal abuse, abandonment, drug & alcohol abuse and multiple instances of criminal activity for good measure. I mean I know that generally speaking, in real life, most times all of the above go hand in hand but man oh man it was a lot to read in a short book of just over two hundred pages. Now maybe that was the point, maybe the reader was supposed to feel that nervous high strung feeling the characters were but really I didn't like it. I would have much rather have seen an in depth story about one of the characters compared to skimming the surface of three. Again, it was just way too much. At times, I struggled with the need for Will in this story. The relationship between Carrie and Kurt made sense, but Will, he was clearly there more for progression of their story than anything else. Making him a victim of abuse didn't add to the story at all in fact it just made it one more thing on top of all the rest. In fact, I honestly found myself confusing Kurt and Will's stories at times because they were so similar. As it relates to the above, I believe part of the reason I struggled with confusion of these two characters is that for a good portion of the book all three stories were jumping back and forth. We'd get several pages of Will then several of Kurt then Carrie. It was very disjointed and many times the transitions were so abrupt I was left wondering why we stopped the one story to go to the other. Admittedly it seemed that once the story got to a crescendo and the three characters were interacting in real time in the same scenes I was able to better transition and follow what was going on. Finally, one last obstacle I struggled to navigate was the fact that the story was extremely depressing. There were no light hearted moments at all, which makes sense given the subject matter I suppose, but honestly for me I need that break here and there. I need something to keep me hopeful that in the end it will all be alright. The small attempt at doing so (Will's desire to be Claire's boyfriend) fell flat for me and was honestly more of an attempt to tie Will in with Carrie's story. It did so effectively I guess but still, I would have enjoyed something uplifting and remotely happy somewhere. In the end, I imagine the author was trying to paint a realistic picture of how mental illness and abuse affects not only the lives of those who carry it with them but also those around them. In that regard I do think the story was in a way successful. I certainly felt anxiety and stress and discomfort I imagine that family and friends of sufferers must endure on a daily basis.